Source: Tanzania Daily News
WOMEN in rural Tanzania have told the Constitutional Review Commission that the envisaged Constitution should have provisions that protect them from societal cruelty, especially the cruelty that emanates from spouses.

The women complain, nearly in each region, that their husbands often batter them and subject them to untold suffering. Over and above this social misdemeanor, it is the same women who slog it out in family farms to make ends meet while their men laze around.

One of the most painful parts of being a woman in this country, the complainants say, is the fear and vulnerability to violence. Wife battering is a major public health problem not only in Tanzania but throughout the world.

In fact, any act of gender-based violence that results in physical, sexual or mental torturer to women, including threats, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty should be rated as criminal offence. However, wives may not wish to take it this far for fear of being rebuked allegedly for going against traditions.

A recent study has showed that in Dar es Salaam, 33% of ever-partnered women have experienced physical violence and 23% have been subjected to sexual violence. Some of these women have experienced severe physical violence (being hit with a fist or something else, kicked, dragged, beaten up, choked, burnt on purpose, threatened with a weapon or had a weapon used against them.

This is unacceptable and horrendous. For some men, violence against women is seen as a natural part of life. However, research has showed that violence against women can have devastating consequences, such as long-term health impairment for the women who experience it. These are happening in a country which has ratified all international and regional instruments that speak against gender-based violence.

The current constitution speaks explicitly against harming any person either physically or verbally. The problem, in our opinion, is mindsets by both sexes for political commitment as well as public awareness on gender and equal rights have been given, notwithstanding limitations especially in rural areas. The problem is rife in both urban and rural area, and this calls for soul searching in our morality.

Although no concrete studies have been done on the socio-economic implications of gender-based violence, we can bet findings would be scaring. What would happen if peace prevailed and everybody contributed equally to the nation building?

It is for this reason we are saying violent acts don't just affect women and children but retards nation building efforts that demand equal participation of both men and women. As we condemn domestic violence as retardation to economic development, campaigns against the vice must also be intensified. 

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